From January 2009 to December 2014, we retrospectively analysed 30 cases of fatal falls from heights who underwent a medical-legal autopsy in the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Ferrara. Particular attention was paid to the death scene evidences, the results of the postmortem examination, the psychiatric history and the toxicological findings. Among the examined cases, 26 were suicides and 4 were accidents, with a prevalence of male gender and a mean age of 54 years. The patterns of injury due to precipitation are the classic example of vertical deceleration impacts. Almost all subjects had some manner of thoracic injury, while 80% had head and/or abdominal injuries. Extremities, pelvic girdle and vertebral injuries were reported in almost 30%; while 56% showed a combination of head, thoracic and abdominal injuries, with severe or disruptive head injuries (fractures of vault and base) being found in approximately 70% and lacerations of the aorta in 30% of cases. No significant differences in injury patterns between deliberate and accidental falls were found. We strongly believe in the primary role of the forensic pathologist on the death scene in fatal falls cases. As a matter of fact this professional, unlike others, can provide a specialized and unitary assessment, avoiding fragmentary evaluations.

Fatal falls from heights. Retrospective study over a 5-year period

Ferronato, Cecilia;Barbieri, Stefania;Avato, Francesco Maria;Gaudio, Rosa Maria
2016

Abstract

From January 2009 to December 2014, we retrospectively analysed 30 cases of fatal falls from heights who underwent a medical-legal autopsy in the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Ferrara. Particular attention was paid to the death scene evidences, the results of the postmortem examination, the psychiatric history and the toxicological findings. Among the examined cases, 26 were suicides and 4 were accidents, with a prevalence of male gender and a mean age of 54 years. The patterns of injury due to precipitation are the classic example of vertical deceleration impacts. Almost all subjects had some manner of thoracic injury, while 80% had head and/or abdominal injuries. Extremities, pelvic girdle and vertebral injuries were reported in almost 30%; while 56% showed a combination of head, thoracic and abdominal injuries, with severe or disruptive head injuries (fractures of vault and base) being found in approximately 70% and lacerations of the aorta in 30% of cases. No significant differences in injury patterns between deliberate and accidental falls were found. We strongly believe in the primary role of the forensic pathologist on the death scene in fatal falls cases. As a matter of fact this professional, unlike others, can provide a specialized and unitary assessment, avoiding fragmentary evaluations.
Ferronato, Cecilia; Barbieri, Stefania; Avato, Francesco Maria; Gaudio, Rosa Maria
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2369618
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